There has probably been no time in history, whether world, national, familial, or even personal, that any of us has truly experienced the calm and peace of life without any concern, worry, or threat, except possibly during a few forgotten years of a safe childhood, a rare gift in today’s hurried society,
Uncertainty is the undertone of most of our lives at home and at work. Changing health issues, economic challenges, climate instability, shifting social structures all leave us with doubts about what we must face more often than we care.
One of the bases of uncertainty is the absence or lack of knowledge we think we need to commit to a decision or determination about a course of action. Even as simple as the weather we could find ourselves hesitating to decide to take a drive.
Uncertainty can also take on the form of doubt or mistrust. Often we hear ourselves complaining, “If I only knew.” Being suspicious or not having faith in a person undercuts certainty and confidence. We all go through shades of hesitation, doubt, and uncertainty. How to deal with such moments?
For starters, we need to realize that the opposite of uncertainty is not certainty. Even with certainty, we still hesitate. Uncertainty stands by itself in the face of whatever is future or possible. There are sciences about uncertainty, whether it is Bayesian theory of probability or Daniel Kahneman’s theory. Choosing a decision in the face of uncertainty or in the question of probability, a person is confronted with risk.
When there is risk, the person chooses courage as the answer to the risk of uncertainty. Teenagers take risks in uncertainty to test their skills of daring; they use an unreflected courage. Navy Seals are trained to face risks with courage, because courage is stronger than the fear of risks. Put quite directly and simply, the opposite of uncertainty is courage.
For those of us who are no longer teenagers and have not been trained as Navy Seals, we support our courage with the virtue of hope. A virtue is a strength; the virtue of hope is the strength of hope. With the strength of hope, we anticipate the attainment of a goal we have set before us. We reach toward our goal with confidence, courage, and expectation; in a word, we reach out toward our goal with strong hope. The title of Barack Obama’s 2006 book expresses this strength beautifully: The Audacity of Hope. With courage, we audaciously set our minds to reach our goal. Uncertainty no longer factors into the equation, for with courage we can get it done.
Psychologically speaking, we choose a positive attitude when facing a decision that is fraught with uncertainty. Lovers enter marriage with a strong hope-filled courage for the goal of life-long joy. Entrepreneurs lay down the foundations of their enterprise with courage in the uncertainty of a volatile economy and fierce competition. A severely sick person courageously clings to the determined hope of healing with the support of a promising doctor. These are all highly expectant people who sustain their expectant goals in the chaos of uncertainty with the audacious courage of the strength of their hope.
This is not wishful thinking. We all makes wishes all the time – I wish the sun would shine; I wish I could win the lottery; etc. Hopeful courage comes out of the core of a person who lives the mindset of positive expectation of life. Such a person is not just lucky or “born with a silver spoon in its mouth.” Courageous persons do experience failures but they know how to get up and continue to pursue their goals. They are strengthened by hope. Uncertainty is merely a “bump in the road.”
For entrepreneurs, consultants, and coaches, for pastors and doctors, and for parents and bosses with others in their charge, this perspective on uncertainty is needed for assisting anyone who deals with the many uncertainties of life. For each of us, we must keep the word “hope” on the tip of our tongue to strengthen those around us who share the same uncertainties as we do. Hope is our strength with or without uncertainty.